Hot autum weather breaks records; what it means for your garden

butterfly on aster in autumn
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit– 22 degrees above normal– on Sunday at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, breaking the previous record of 88 degrees set in 2010.

When I called the National Weather Service in Buffalo early Monday afternoon to find out about this hot autumn weather, it was already 89 degrees, breaking the previous record of 87 set in 2007.

Not only is it unusual to have temperatures that are so much above normal, but it’s unusual to have hot weather like this for more than a day or two at a time, said Steve Welch, meterologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. It has been at or above normal temperatures since Sept. 11.

“It’s been pretty dry, too,” Welch noted. “There has been no measurable rainfall since Sept. 8.”

This weather was caused by a Bermuda High, a weather pattern that is more common in the summer. It’s a strong area of high pressure that brought warm air from the south to Western New York.

Temperatures will cool off later this week, but the long-range outlook suggests that there is a decent chance that the weather for the next few weeks will be above normal, Welch said. That doesn’t mean we will have 90-degree days; it could be just a couple degrees above normal. But it won’t be very cold.

However, depending on where in Western New York you live, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t get a quick frost or freeze overnight.

What does this mean for your garden?

green tomatoes on vine
Might these volunteer tomatoes have time to ripen this year? Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Keep watering!

The summer was so wet and cool that we didn’t have to water much, but now you better be checking your containers every day. I have found wilted plants more often than I’d like to admit to.

Also pay special attention to perennials that have been recently planted. You want them to be strong and have good root systems before the ground freezes.

When you water, make sure you water deeply. The water has to seep down to the roots, which may mean it has to pass through an inch of mulch before it even touches the top of the soil. Set your hose to low and place the hose at the base of the plant. Let it run until the water seeps down to the roots. You can push your finger into the soil to see whether the soil is moist down near the roots.

It may take awhile to water this way, but do it even if it means watering just a few plants a day. Spraying your entire garden lightly every day, without getting water to the roots, is useless.

Keep harvesting

I still have some tomato and pepper plants that are producing, and the warm weather should help fruit production along.

In addition, I have a volunteer (a plant that shows up your garden without you planting it on purpose). I think it’s a cherry tomato plant. I didn’t notice it at first, and I wasn’t quick to weed it out, so when my husband noticed it, he staked it. Not only does it have flowers, it has some tiny green tomatoes! I’m excited to see if I will be able to pick any of the tomatoes before a frost hits. I think the chances are good because the plant is in a sheltered spot, against the house and along the driveway.

If you hear that a frost or freeze is coming, you can cover your plants to protect them.

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2 Comments on “Hot autum weather breaks records; what it means for your garden

  1. LOL I call the mystery tomato plants “orphans” and I just found 3 only last week when we put the green house back up. They must have been down deep, because I weeded there earlier in the summer and found 4 others back then. All of my big orphans have dozens of green cherry tomatoes, while my garden tomatoes are nearly dead from the cooler nights we had back in August! My 3 little ones will go in the green house and we will see what will happen. Even if they just give me a little joy from seeing something growing in the fall, it will be worth it.

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